Avisena Specialist Hospital Logo
Appointments +(603) 5515 1966
General Line +(603) 5515 1888
Highlights / Articles


June 11, 2024

The Allergy Epidemic: Understanding and Coping with Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, affect millions worldwide with symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and congestion. With the increasing prevalence of allergies, it’s important to understand their causes, symptoms, and management strategies.

Let’s explore the science behind seasonal allergies and learn a few practical tips for coping with them.

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to allergens present during specific times of the year. Common seasonal allergens include pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. When these allergens are inhaled, the immune system mistakenly identifies them as harmful substances and releases histamines and other chemicals to combat them, leading to allergic symptoms.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of seasonal allergies vary in severity and can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Itchy throat or ears
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

Factors Contributing to Growing Prevalence of Allergies

Several factors contribute to the rising prevalence of allergies:

  • Environmental Changes: Increased pollution, climate change, and urbanisation have altered the natural environment, increasing exposure to allergens.
  • Hygiene: Improved sanitation and hygiene practices have reduced exposure to microbes in early childhood, leading to an overactive immune system prone to allergies.
  • Genetics: Family history plays a significant role in the likelihood of developing allergies. Children with allergic parents are more likely to suffer from allergies themselves.
  • Diet and Lifestyle: Changes in diet and lifestyle, including reduced physical activity and increased consumption of processed foods, may influence the development of allergies.

Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are diagnosed through the following methods:

Medical History and Physical Examination

To diagnose seasonal allergies, a healthcare provider will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. They will ask about the timing and severity of your symptoms and any known triggers.

Allergy Testing

Your doctor may conduct the following allergy tests to detect a seasonal allergy:

Skin Prick Test

In this test, small quantities of potential allergens are applied to the skin with a tiny needle. If you’re allergic, a small, raised bump will appear at the test site.

Blood Test

The amount of specific antibodies (IgE) in your blood that are produced in response to allergens are tested to detect the presence of allergies.

Coping with Seasonal Allergies

Now, let us take a look at how we can cope with seasonal allergies.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing exposure to allergens is the first step in the management of seasonal allergies:

  • Monitor Pollen Levels: Be aware of the daily pollen counts through weather reports or apps. On high pollen days, limit outdoor activities.
  • Keep the Windows Closed: Prevent pollen from entering your home by keeping windows and doors closed, especially during peak pollen times.
  • Use Air Purifiers: Air filters can help remove pollen and other allergens from indoor air.
  • Shower after being outside: If you’ve been outdoors, shower and change clothes to remove pollen from your hair and body.


Various over-the-counter and prescription medications can help manage allergy symptoms:

  • Antihistamines: These medications block histamine, reducing symptoms like sneezing, itching, and runny nose. Examples include cetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine.
  • Decongestants: These medications relieve nasal congestion. However, they should be used short term due to potential side effects.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids: These sprays reduce inflammation and are effective for treating nasal symptoms. Examples include fluticasone and budesonide.
  • Leukotriene Modifiers: These medications block chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Montelukast is a common example.

Natural Remedies

Some people find relief from seasonal allergies using natural remedies:

  • Saline Nasal Rinse: Rinsing nasal passages with a saline solution can help remove allergens and reduce congestion.
  • Butterbur: This herb has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms. However, it should be used with caution and under medical supervision.
  • Quercetin: Found in foods like apples and onions, quercetin is a natural antihistamine. Supplements are also available.
  • Probiotics: Some studies suggest that probiotics can help modulate the immune system and reduce allergy symptoms.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Making certain lifestyle adjustments can help manage and reduce allergy symptoms:

  • Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can support your immune system. Foods high in antioxidants can help reduce inflammation.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve overall health and reduce stress, which can exacerbate allergy symptoms.
  • Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help manage stress, potentially reducing the severity of allergy symptoms.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough rest, as sleep is crucial for a well-functioning immune system.

Long-Term Management and Treatment

  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment for severe allergies that can significantly reduce symptoms. It includes allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy tablets placed under the tongue, which can be done at home.
  • Emerging Treatments: Research into new treatments for allergies is ongoing, with some promising developments such as:

Biologic Medications

These target specific pathways in the immune system to reduce allergic reactions. Examples include omalizumab, which targets IgE.

Gene Therapy

This experimental approach aims to modify the genes involved in the allergic response, potentially providing a long-term solution to allergies.

Coping with Allergies in Daily Life

Yes, we know, living with allergies is not easy. However, with a few regular management and adaptation techniques, you can improve your quality of life:

  • Create an Allergy-Free Environment: Regularly clean your home to reduce allergens. Use hypoallergenic bedding and keep pets out of the bedroom.
  • Plan Outdoor Activities Wisely: Try to schedule outdoor activities when pollen levels are low, such as after rain or in the evening.
  • Communicate with Employers and Schools: Ensure that your workplace or school is aware of your allergies and any necessary accommodations.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest research and treatment options for allergies to ensure you are using the most effective strategies.

Stop Dreading the Allergy Season

The allergy epidemic is a growing concern that affects millions of people worldwide. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and management strategies for seasonal allergies is crucial for improving quality of life. By taking proactive steps to prevent exposure to allergens, using appropriate medications and natural remedies, and making lifestyle adjustments, you can effectively manage your symptoms and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable life.

Back to All Highlights